What About Bob? (1991)

what about bob


The Scoop: 1991 PG, directed by Frank Oz and starring Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, and Julie Hagerty

Tagline: Bob’s a special kind of friend. The kind that drives you crazy!

Summary Capsule: Crazy man goes on vacation to stay with his shrink. Will they learn important life lessons from each other? Who cares, just make me laugh!

Justin’s Rating: Proof that hair loss is your friend in comedy

Justin’s Review: This movie started a long-lasting feud among our family that started the day we went to the movie theater to see it. Upon leaving, a theater attendant was witness to these words:

ME: [cackling like a hyena] Hahaha‚Ķ “Death Therapy”! How awesome is that?

MOM: That was just awful.

DAD: [agreeing just to buy time while he thought of where he parked] Yeah, it was.

ME: [heart breaking while the color red seeped into my vision] What?!? WHAT DID YOU SAY?

Yes, so, in our family, a line was quickly drawn between those of us who appreciated the sly and intelligent comedy of a Mr. Bill Murray, and those of us without a morsel of humor in our black, shriveled souls. It’s an issue that’s driven us apart, time and again, whenever someone quotes this “awful” movie and we revive the long-limp argument as to whether this was a good movie or not.

I love my parents. But What About Bob? is a good movie, and I’m really glad the courts will never make me choose between the two.

The simple story of a clutching, needy phobia-phobic loon who latches onto a psychiatrist and his family is one that resonates, time and again, in our culture. We are a society that needs to take “baby steps” toward solving our problems. We are the men and women who need to let go and learn to “sail” with our hearts. We are insecure to the point of needing to spend a night in a room filled with kids happily swearing the entire range of child grossness. This is the film that not only defined, but healed a generation.

Also, it’s incredibly funny. Bill Murray is a dead lock when it comes to playing smart and highly sarcastic characters (Ghostbusters, Quick Change, Groundhog Day), but as he steps into a role that’s almost the polar opposite – a sweet, innocent and mentally unstable man-child – he’s equally at home. I really wonder what kind of childhood this guy had, anyway.

It’s not really funny to make jabs at people with mental problems, I realize. But then again, most of us have them in some form, so we need to blow off some steam. What About Bob? doesn’t deal with any massive psychological issues, other than just generally being a bit nuts and off-center, which makes it a neutral playground where our neurosis can come out to have a bit of recess. Maybe play a bit of tetherball, or four-square. Bob’s our poster boy for all of us who wear our problems in fish form around our necks, and we can’t help but admire what a spectacular job he does at overcoming his disabilities while retaining the yes-nonsense personality infecting his body.

Like most of Murray’s classic comedies, WAB? is downright addicting to watch if you ever flip to it on TV and find yourself unable to change the channel ever again, doomed to an eternal existence on the couch watching the same station while you hope against hope that the channel will soon replay this masterpiece and alleviate the suffering heaped upon your psyche.

In truth, Bill Murray was Mr. Holland's Opus
In truth, Bill Murray was Mr. Holland’s Opus


  • Leo Marvin is a psychiatrist whose kids’ names are “Anna” and “Sigmund” named after the very well-known psychiatrist Sigmund Freud and his daughter, child psychologist Anna Freud.
  • Bob’s boat is obviously being pulled, not sailed.
  • The kid who plays Siggy played the geek William in Can’t Hardly Wait

Groovy Quotes

Bob: Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.

Dr. Leo Marvin: You think he’s gone? He’s not gone. That’s the whole point! He’s never gone! [Leo opens the door; there’s Bob]
Bob Wiley: Is this some radical new therapy?
Dr. Leo Marvin: YOU SEE?

Bob Wiley: Well, if I fake it then I don’t have it.

Dr. Leo Marvin: All I want is some peace and quiet!
Bob Wiley: Okay I’ll be quiet.
Siggy: And I’ll be peace!

Bob Wiley: There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don’t. My ex-wife loves him.

Bob Wiley: What are you doing with the gun, Dr. Marvin?
Dr. Leo Marvin: Death Therapy, Bob. It’s a guaranteed cure.

Bob Wiley: Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m a schizophrenic… and so am I!

Bob Wiley: Dr. Marvin, I’M SAILING! I’M SAILING!
Dr. Leo Marvin: That’s good, keep sailing Bob!

Bob Wiley: [to man on bus] Hi. I’m Bob. Would you knock me out, please? Just hit me in the face.

Bob Wiley: …baby steps get on the elevator… baby steps get on the elevator… Ah, I’m on the elevator. [Doors close] AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Siggy: I mean, my dad just dropped me in the water. He let me go with no warning. I mean, I nearly drowned. My whole life passed before my eyes.
Bob Wiley: You’re lucky you’re only 12.
Siggy: It was still grim.

Dr. Leo Marvin: The man is human Krazy Glue!

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